As we head into the abyss we need to address what we’re fighting for. What are our beliefs? What are our morals and guiding principles? Everyone needs an ethical compass to live by. I’ve called myself a liberal for as long as I can remember and it has always seemed clear to me why I’ve embraced that label, even when I’ve felt alone in my convictions.
Growing up in the South, Florida to be exact, my liberal parents could only shelter me so much from toxic tone people used at they spat out that detested word. Those who leaned left are godless, city elitists who lack the good common sense of the rural poor. This is an outlook that has seemed to grow stronger as the years have marched by, but perhaps in my youth I was simply ignorant of the divisiveness.
I have family that lean more conservative than me. My own grandmother is a Fox News disciple. I love them dearly though I disagree with them completely about most, if not all, things politically. It has become difficult sometimes to empathize, and quite frankly I have no empathy for those who voted for Trump. I believe with every fiber of my being that they were not only wrong in their decision, but woefully and intentionally ignorant of what they were doing to our country. It is so easy to fall prey to the fake headlines and to believe the nonsensical vitriol spewing from our president. Trump has gaslighted the nation, leading us to believe the media is not to be trusted while he is the source of all truth.
This shall be a mini-manifesto, a breakdown of my guiding principles. I hope to touch on all of these topics more in depth in future posts. The following are not in any particular order, but rather follows my train of thought. I do not claim to speak for all my liberal sisters and brothers, but I would like to think we are on the same page for many of these.
Healthcare is a Human Right
Should people have to choose between paying their rent or getting medical care? Absolutely not. When you break an arm or get into a car accident your first thought shouldn’t be “how am I going to pay for this?” Parents should not have to wait until their child is severely ill to take them to the doctor. But this is the America we live in. Thousands of people die every year from preventable illnesses because they didn’t feel like they had options.
Even with insurance, the high deductibles we are forced to cough up leave many individuals and families scrambling for funds or going thousands of dollars into debt. We live in a society where we need to provide healthcare for all, any other option is selfish and barbarous. This isn’t asking for a free handout, as the conservatives seem so keen on saying. I am more than willing to pay higher taxes if that means we can all have equal healthcare.
When someone is uninsured, has a hospital visit, and then can’t afford to pay, someone does. The patient may languish in medical bill debt the rest of their lives but hospitals have bills to pay and medical staff aren’t free. We pay, the insured. We get that bill in the form of higher deductibles, and higher premiums. We pay through increased medical costs. Do you ever wonder why a dose of Tylenol is $20 at a hospital? We are already subsidizing those who can not pay. A conservative task force in Florida found that the insured pay about $1.4 billion to cover the needs of the uninsured. If conservatives were actually interested in individual accountability and fiscal prudence they would want universal healthcare.
The Justice System Should Treat all People Equally and Fairly
Let’s focus on drugs here for a moment. White and black men are statistically ikely to do drugs at similar rates. White men are even far more likely to sell drugs than black men. So explain to me why black men are arrested and prosecuted at a much greater rate and have harsher jail sentences than white men?
This is discrepancy reflected in violent crime as well. Why does a white rapist like Brock Turner get turned loose after 6 months with a slap on the wrist while a black rapist would have the book thrown at him? There are deeply ingrained racial biases within our criminal justice system that can no longer be ignored when you take a moment to look at facts. I want us to work towards a justice system that actually lives up to it’s name. We need to start this process by acknowledging there is a problem.
Nonviolent drug users don’t need to spend their life behind bars, if anything they need help, and rapists shouldn’t be released because the judge takes pity on the “All-American” athlete who he deems to have a future. I’ve mentioned it before but if you are actually interested in learning about these inequalities I suggest The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.
Religion has No Place in Our Government
The first amendment serves two purposes. First, it establishes that government can not interfere in the practicing of religion. Second, that religion can not interfere in government. There is a wall between church and state that we must maintain if we are not to be a theocracy.
As a country founded by the immigration of many different people, it is absurd to say that we are a Christian Nation. Is it so difficult to see the hypocrisy in decrying the Shari’ah lead governments of the Middle East while our own leaders embrace the bible as their compass? The Constitution should be any leader’s guiding force.
The decisions of our government should be based on facts. They should be based on data and science. Your subjective morals and gut feelings should not dictate the path of our nation. I am not a christian and this country is just as much mine as yours. We all have a say in the direction our government takes. We would do well to remember the great variety of beliefs that that out population possess and respect that.
Reproductive Rights are Human Rights
Our Supreme Court ruled in the 1973 case Roe v. Wade that a woman’s right to safe abortion is protected under the constitution. I completely and unapologetically stand by that landmark decision. I also stand against restrictions and prohibitive costs when it comes to birth control. When a state or the federal government place restrictions on anything concerning reproductive health I will be there to oppose it.
The tools for safe sex should be taught in school and abstinence only education should be abolished. Abstinence only education has been shown time and again to have absolutely no impact on the reduction of teen or unwanted pregnancy. This is prime example of our leaders placing religious based morals in the way of initiatives that will actually lead to an impact. We need to banish outdated notions based on religious folly and focus on actually lowering the rates of unwanted pregnancy. You don’t like abortion? Fund Planned Parenthood and get contraception in the hands of everyone woman who wants it.
From a fiscal perspective this makes obvious sense as well. Providing women with birth control is substantially cheaper than raising a child in foster care or helping a single mother through welfare. People are going to have sex and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. You shouldn’t be shamed because you are poor and desire intimacy.
LGBTQIA Rights are Human Rights
It’s difficult me to write about this one simply because it seems so self-evident. I will fight to protect the rights of my gay, lesbian, bi, queer, trans or gender non-conforming co-humans.
Gender is not binary. If it was, the Bugis wouldn’t identity five individual genders. Native American’s wouldn’t have the people they call Two-Spirit. Most anthropologists, including myself, believe gender to be a social construct. Women are feminine because they are taught what femininity is and that it is their role in society to perform. Your gender role is dictated by your culture.
Even biological sex can’t be neatly relegated to the feminine and the masculine. One in every 1,500 to 2,000 births are hermaphroditic to varying extents. They are born with both male and female genitals, though usually one or the other is not fully formed. Who decides who those individuals get to be?
You do not get to be active prejudiced against people simply because they do not fit into your narrow view of the world. Once again religion is used as discriminatory scapegoat. Conservatives cherry pick their bible verses and proclaim any one outside heteronormativity to be perverse. There is an assumption that the live and let live mentality is deeply embedded into our culture. Clearly it only applies when their way of life syncs neatly to your own. Sexual orientation and gender identification do not dictate a persons worth and it’s time that we as a nation stop judging people on something so completely arbitrary.
Men and women should be paid equally for equal work. Employers shall not discriminate based on gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Workers, both male and female, should have access to affordable childcare. More single parents, mothers in particular, would be able to find employment if they actually had someplace safe to leave their young children during the day.
Our country should require mandatory paid maternity leave. Having a baby is not a vacation, it is not equitable to being sick and it should not be treated like either. In our country you can count yourself lucky if you have paid time off to use at all. Mandatory paid paternity leave needs to be implemented. It is a sign of ingrained patriarchy that men are not deemed necessary in the private sphere directly after birth. Men and women are both in the work force and as such family leave needs to be equal.
All employees should be provided with paid vacation or, at a minimum, sick time. The minimum wage should be adjusted with inflation so that people who work full-time are not also dependent on welfare.
We need the ability to organize and fight for these rights without the threat of reprimand. The workers rights we have today we possess because our predecessors unionized. Demanding that we be treated fairly and are given our due is not greedy. Not paying your employee a living wage is. Let’s not forget that.
People who are here illegally need to be treated with respect and dignity. They are human beings and not monsters. They have come to our country out of desperation, not some evil plan to ruthlessly hijack the jobs of hardworking Americans. We need to implement a path to citizenship that isn’t fraught with a million financial and political hoops.
Undocumented workers pay $12 billion in taxes every year, including into social security, and do not reap any of the benefits of doing so, despite what the far right faux news channels would have you believe. Instead of demonizing the the disenfranchised we need to shift our attention to the people actually benefiting from their blood and sweat.
Corporations who take advantage of the undocumented need to be held accountable, not just for tax evasion, but for humanitarian violations. Your anger should be directed at them. They possess agency, not the people trying to feed their families while staying invisible.
And of course now we are going to pour billions of dollars into a massive wall despite the fact that more undocumented Mexican’s have left the United States in recent years than have come in. None of the plans conservatives have put forth make sense on a fiscal or humanitarian level. When you actually look at the facts, the basis for the conservative course of action can boil down to one thing: racism.
Let’s be clear, climate change is real and humans are having a massive impact. The debate is over. The facts are in and we are way past where we can put off dealing with it. The vast majority of scientists have shown that we are past the point of no return and our course of action should be to mitigate the damage done to the greatest extent we can. Sea levels are going rise and climate is going to change. It’s really just a matter of by how much.
We need to drastically cut our carbon emissions and set a global example. We need to fund climate studies. Scientists aren’t trying to dupe the less formally educated into giving them more grant money. There is no academic conspiracy and while science can be political, most scientists strive to be as unbiased as humanly possible. Are we really at a point where we readily trust billionaires who make their living off of fossil fuels while calling scientists liars? Who gains the most pulling wool over the public’s eyes?
Let’s fund the EPA. Let’s fund NASA. And for goodness sake, let’s not sell off our National Parks piecemeal to the highest bidder because there might be some natural gas or oil down there.
We Must Give a Hand to Those in Need
We are a civilization and as such it is our responsibility to provide a safety net and a hand to those in need. We get so hung up on the idea that all anyone needs to achieve the American Dream is a good work ethic that we fail to see how completely untrue that nostalgic sentiment is. Of course we see people make it against all odds, but shouldn’t we level the playing field and make it so people can have the odds on their side?
Let’s give the single mother childcare so she can work. Let’s demand that people receive a minimum wage that keeps pace with inflation so they can actually live off of it. Let’s give our homeless (a great many of whom have fought for this country) a roof over their head, proper medical care, and a chance to become gainfully employed. Right now we write the poor off as lazy, especially when it comes to people of color. It is so much easier to believe in the myth of the welfare queen, that racist Reagan yarn that conjures images of a lazy black woman surrounded by her brood of entitlements, rather than to accept the fact that the majority of people on welfare are employed. We vilify these people. They are moochers, thugs, parasites. In reality they are simply trying to provide for their families in the best way they know how.
This is only just a brief overviews of the multitude of beliefs I hold. I’m a veritable cornucopia of options and there are many more pieces to my liberal puzzle. I haven’t even touched on indigenous rights or Black Lives Matter, both of which I plan on going into detail on in the near future. But i hope this gives you some insight into the mind of this bleeding heart, overly educated, uppity liberal woman. Feel free to comment on what ideals you find most important in your own liberal journey.